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The revolution will not be televised….but it will be automated! by Tariq Siraj

TAS Blog

So apparently the robots are coming!

You know that rhetoric about immigrants coming in and stealing our jobs? Well in this case it might actually be true. But rather than humans being replaced by slightly cheaper humans from a different country, we’re talking about replacement by machines, robots and artificial intelligence.

According to McKinsey, “the coming workforce disruptions could match the scale of the epic historical shifts out of agriculture and manufacturing—and could possibly occur at a faster pace.”

It’s the automation revolution!


A Seismic Shift

According to recent reports by both PwC and McKinsey, estimates suggest up to 14% of the global working population – as many as 375 million people – may have to change occupation. As many as

30% of jobs across the UK economy alone could be lost to automation by 2030 with maybe 2-3% going in the next 4 years.

The Financial Services sector could be hit particularly hard – up to 6-8% – due to the prevalence of data and clerical roles more vulnerable to automation.

But is it all doom and gloom as these stats suggest?  McKinsey’s report also calculates that there is likely to be enough demand for labour to offset this shift – rather than mass-scale unemployment as many might fear.

We humans are a pretty adaptable lot. By all accounts there will be enough work to go around, but the question is how individuals and sectors navigate this transition. Perhaps this should reveal a huge opportunity rather than create fear?

From my viewpoint in the recruitment market, this represents another very clear example of why we need keep ourselves relevant, continue developing, carry on learning, always challenge ourselves and keep transferring our skills wherever possible.


Programmed to Inspire

Robots can and will replace humans in certain areas – and they always have done to one extent or another – but robots will never completely replace humans. As advanced as the technology might become, robots can’t build relationships, they can’t convince and influence someone over a coffee, they can’t identify an opportunity in the same way, or put a compelling proposition to a client.

A robot can’t think outside the box.

Our ability to adapt, innovate and use instinct, motivation and ambition to achieve things is entirely and exclusively human.

Boxing, tennis and football matches are not played out according to statistics – they fight the fights and play the games entirely because there is an unpredictability to human behaviour and achievement. We may sometimes fall below certain standards because of various factors – which of course a machine will not – but we will also often rise to previously unfathomable heights; driven by occasion, a change in preparation, a new skill learnt or another form of inspiration.

The Winter Olympics which start this week will be a perfect example of this.

In a similar way, we don’t hire many people for our clients who perfectly fit a job description. Recruitment – or business in general – is not a tick-box, word-matching exercise. Amongst much else, so much relies on instinct. Instinct shaped from experience. Instinct that a robot cannot replicate.


Did you know that 40% of the UK Indirect Tax population don’t hold any kind of professional qualification? Music to the ears no doubt of all those who have been struggling with the CTA this last year.

There’s a lot to digest in BLT’s Indirect Tax Market Report 2018, so over the coming weeks we’ll highlight a few of the items that you might not have spotted amongst the mass of data! If you haven’t yet received received your copy of the Report do drop me a note to

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New Year, New You? How Are Your Resolutions Holding Up? by Liz Watt

So how was January for you?

I always think there is a certain cruel irony in the fact that the month of new beginnings, fresh starts and shiny New Year resolutions happens to coincide with the gloom of January, bad weather, post-Christmas poverty and the sinking feeling that the party is well and truly over.

So if your hand is hovering over the gin bottle as dry January comes to a close, and if you now feel that you are ‘allowed’ to book a holiday as the coffers have been replenished by pay-day, it might be worth taking 5 minutes to reflect on whether your good intentions and resolutions have stood the test of January – or could do with an impending Spring re-boot.

A quick glance on the #newyearsresolution hashtag on Twitter reveals the diversity of resolutions out there, from the predictable ambitions to get fit, lose weight, stick to a wellness programme, eat better, to the more esoteric – reading your height in books anyone? Resolve to have less car accidents (yes really…)?

And of course key areas that comes under scrutiny at the New Year are career ambitions, changing jobs and personal development.

So if you had great plans to focus  on your career and personal development in 2018, but these plans have gone a little awry, don’t despair and don’t give up! Here are some suggestions of actions you can take to get your plans back on track:

  • Carve some time out for yourself to make a plan and write it down. Give yourself some real targets or tasks to further your ambitions over the course of the coming months and  diarise these. For example, these might include reviewing your CV, reconnecting with a trusted recruiter, signing yourself up for some further training
  • Get creative – if you are inspired by visual prompts, why not create a mood board for yourself – here are some ideas to get the creative juices flowing
  • Look at your network – who might be able to help or advise you? Open doors? Commit to reaching out to at least 2 contacts over the coming month and arranging that overdue coffee
  • Consider investing in some career or executive coaching. Working with a qualified coach could enable you to achieve your goals more effectively than trying to do it alone.

If you would like to find out more about what Coaching entails, or how my Career Coaching Programme might help you in 2018, why not contact me to arrange a no strings attached conversation?  I’d be delighted to hear from you :


Loneliness At Work – A Real Phenomenon…by Liz Watt

A recent conversation with someone i am coaching really made me stop and think.  This was a  successful, highly articulate individual whose career is in the ascent,  who will no doubt achieve their career ambitions, and on the face of it has everything going for them.  So far so good.  And yet one of the biggest issues this individual experiences is feeling lonely at work. Not in the sense of having no friends, or no one to go to lunch with, but in the sense of the lack of a trusted group to turn to discuss concerns, gripes, worries – professional or personal.  The mantra this person has therefore adopted is to plough their own furrow, keep their own counsel, not get too close to others, not to be open and honest, for fear of letting their guard down  in a way that might be detrimental to their career.

Shocking – yes. Understandable – regrettably,  yes.  The competition and culture endemic in many organisations means that quite often there isn’t a great support network in place and the ‘tone from the top’ doesn’t foster open, honest and collaborative working relationships.

Is this phenomenon unique to women as they become more senior and quite often have a diminishing peer group? I don’t think so – there are many men out there who have similar experiences, especially as they climb the career ladder, become more senior and therefore feel they have to be more circumspect about who they share issues and concerns with.  However,  in my experience many men working in large organisations have a better network than their female colleagues and are more comfortable at in tapping into this for help and support.

Women on the other hand quite often feel incredibly isolated, lacking in a peer group, not a part of the ‘old boys club’ and with few, if any, role models.

Is this important? After all, some people are perfectly fine keeping themselves to themselves and don’t feel the need to make friends at work.  Various studies say that it is important.  Research conducted by California State University and  Wharton School of Business found that ‘an employee’s work loneliness triggers emotional withdrawal from their organization’ leading to ‘reduced effective commitment’.   One of the conclusions reached is pretty uncompromising : ‘…management should not treat loneliness as a private problem that needs to be individually resolved by employees who experience this emotion; but rather should consider it as an organizational problem that needs to be addressed both for the employees’ sake and that of the organization.’

So how to tackle this issue? As ever there is no magic wand.  Awareness of the issue at Management and HR level is crucial in fostering a culture where employees feel included and that they have a voice. Encouraging  and promoting initiatives that counter potential isolation and foster an inclusive culture are important strategies that will filter down through an organisation. Worth considering:

  • Networking groups – either internal or external. If there isn’t one that fits your background or level of experience, consider setting one up.  Having a strong network is seen to be one of the most powerful tools in your business armoury and it is never too early to start developing this. A fantastic way to encourage a sense of belonging.
  • Mentoring : Having a strong mentoring culture, especially across departments and levels, fosters a sense of communication and belonging within an  organization. Consider upward mentoring schemes as well as the more traditional ‘top down’ initiatives
  • Social events – no one likes to feel obliged to attend events, especially if they are after work or just involve beers in the pub on a Friday night.  However there are plenty of other possibilities, from lunchtime exercise classes, to organising theatre trips, to a workplace book group, cross-department learning groups  – there are plenty of other ideas! The point is to get people together who might not otherwise meet or communicate.
  • Speak to people! Technology is great, but it can foster isolation too. So consider getting off your chair and actually talking to your colleagues rather than e-mailing them, or worse – sending a text or WhatsApp!
  • Show appreciation. People who feel appreciated are far more likely to buy into the business and stay with it.  On a business wide level, and a local departmental level, showing appreciation tells individuals that you recognise their value, they are important to the business and they are not alone.

If any of the issues discussed here resonate with you and you’d like to discuss how you might address them,  I would love to hear from you:


If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right…by Tariq Siraj

Many of us use the turn of the year as a symbolic point to make resolutions, start afresh and take a new approach. Usually things we know we should have been doing anyway but, hey, you need to start somewhere.

I didn’t really make any specific resolutions this year, but I have been thinking on a broader level about improvements, about how to make things just that little bit better. How do I make processes run a little smoother at work? What new approaches can make the team perform on a higher level?, how can my wife and I find that extra time (and energy) for each other when we both work and have a toddler and a crawler at home?

I concluded that maybe we’re better off trying to fix the small things rather than jumping in with huge daunting grand plans. Maybe the key is to look at all the micro ‘hows’ rather than the big meandering macro ‘whats’?

At around this time a video randomly popped up on my feed – one apparently that has likely also popped up on yours at some point in the last 3 years (it’s gone viral in a big way and had nearly 100 million views).  It was a 2014 graduation speech to the University of Texas by Admiral William H. McRaven, a decorated US forces commander.  What he says puts a great perspective on all of this.

The main message? “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”  The line gets a laugh, but in his own way he basically sums up the idea I had been trying and failing to say in my own head;

“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. If, by chance, you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that’s made. That you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.”

I guess it’s the sort of lesson you would expect from a military leader, but while you can certainly practice the literal lesson of making your bed every morning, you can also apply the same principle to the way you approach your work, your projects, your daily tasks and your relationships.

My favourite line of his is that making your bed will “reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right.”

Exactly! Lots of small changes are easier to accomplish and will almost certainly be more effective in impacting the bigger picture.


Two-do List…

Something else I found which ties in nicely here is an article by Nick Miaritis – a Global Business Director at Saatchi & Saatchi in New York and a serial blogger. His piece asks us to ‘rethink the first 10 minutes of our day’; to make a few small changes (no snoozing, drink water, don’t look at your phone first thing etc) which just might transform how we approach the rest of our day.

My favourite tip is to have a ‘Two-do list’; the idea that in this time of our fast-moving busy lives, never-ending information and endless platforms to check emails, messages, pictures, blogs and news, it might just make sense to get up in the morning and spend the first few minutes focusing our brains solely on the TWO most important things which will happen that day;

“Close your eyes and imagine them already done, observe how they will make you feel, how they may make other people in your life feel, etc. Your “two-do” list can consist of anything from cooking dinner for your family, walking 10K steps or crushing a big presentation — all that matters is that you decide what the two things are and let them rise above everything else going on that day.”

I like that piece of advice and I like the notion that the way we start our day can impact our approach, mood and energy levels for the rest of it; how we work, how we treat other people and how motivated we are.   A good start, of course, is to make your own bed…


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